How Sports Betting Works – A Complete Guide

Sports betting has been in existence for centuries. Thanks to technological advancements, betting enthusiasts can enjoy predicting the outcomes of their favorite games in the comfort of their homes using smart devices.

This guide to Sports betting will answer all your questions regarding online betting. This includes how to place bets, types of sports betting, online betting vs. land-based betting, how sportsbooks make money, and tips for applying if you want to become a professional in sports betting.

A Complete Guide to Online Sports Betting

Sports betting gives punters a more exciting way to watch their favorite games. It allows them to make money online while watching sports events at the same time. And since Sports Betting involves money when predicting sports outcomes, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the basics of sports betting. In this case, you need to understand betting mechanics, how odds work, how to place bets, and the mistakes to avoid when betting online. Let's start by reviewing where you can place bets.

Where to Place Bets

You can decide to place your bet at an online sportsbook or a land-based establishment. Before you do so, ensure the platform you're about to bet at is licensed by a reputable regulatory body. So, how does sports betting work?

What is Sports Betting

Sports betting involves predicting the outcome of sporting events and placing a wager on them. Players can bet on athletic events such as football, tennis, basketball, baseball, etc or non-athletic events such as politics and reality shows.

Typically, sports betting sites generate odds to be used by punters when predicting games' outcomes. Odds represent the likelihood of an event happening. So, how does sports betting odds work? Well, sportsbooks multiply these odds with the amount of money wagered by players for them to either win or lose the money.

Types of Sports Bets

Besides betting on the winning team or which team loses a particular event, sports betting gives you many other ways to bet. They include but are not limited to:

  • Total bets: Also referred to as an under/over, a total bet requires you to predict whether the combined points of a particular competition fall over or under specified odds.
  • Moneyline bets: This is a straight wager where you bet on the team that wins a particular sporting event.
  • Point spread betting: This type of betting involves wagering on the winning margin rather than the team to win or lose a particular competition.
  • Futures: These types of bets involve predicting the future outcomes of sporting events, such as a team to win the championship or the world cup.
  • Parlay bets: This type of bet requires you to combine more than one wager into a single bet. If one team loses, you lose the whole bet.
  • Live bets: Live betting allows you to predict an event's outcome after it has already started.

Plus and Minus in Betting

Typically, a minus (-) or a plus (+) must precede a specific number in betting. It is usually used in American-style odds where teams are listed as favorites and underdogs.

A minus indicates a team will likely win a game, while the minus suggests the team has a higher chance of losing the competition. This type of bet can be offered as betting odds or a point spread.

Over/Under or Total Betting

This wager type involves betting on the total number of points in a sporting event. It is among the easiest types of wagers, especially for beginners, since all they have to do is predict the total number of points or goals in a particular game regardless of which team wins.

Online Betting vs. Land-Based Betting for Beginners

As stated earlier, you can either place your bets online or visit a physical betting establishment (in-person betting). Online betting sites require you to have a smart device and an internet connection to access their services. They are known to offer their customers welcome bonuses and many gaming events compared to land-based establishments. However, you must understand their legality because online betting sites are illegal in some countries.

On the other hand, in-person betting is accepted in many countries, especially in the US. These States usually charge a specific fee for brick-and-mortar betting sites, racetracks, and casinos to operate in their jurisdiction.

How Sportsbooks Make Money

Sportsbooks are in the gambling business to earn profits. Therefore, they rely on vigorish to make money and stay in business.

A vigorish is also known as a vig, overround, margin, house edge, or juice. It is the amount of money a bookie or bookmark charges to allow gamblers to place bets in that particular sportsbook.

The idea behind bookmaking is to take money after players place their bets and pay the winners. For this to happen, the betting platform must take more money than they pay out. For instance, a book might require you to place a $210 bet to win $200. That means the winner takes home $200 while the book takes a $10 profit. So how does betting on sports work for those who want to play at an online or a physical sportsbook?

How to Place Bets

There are many betting operators that offer gambling enthusiasts several ways to place their wagers. For instance, you can bet over the telephone or via the internet. When betting over the telephone, you must call the bookmaker and explain the details of your preferred bets. In this case, the bookmaker will confirm the odds of your bets in relation to time. Usually, telephone betting requires players to pay their wagering money using debit/credit cards.

You can also bet at bookmaking shops. In most cases, the bookmaking shop requires you to visit the cashier with a completed betting slip for a confirmation. You are then required to pay your wagering money to proceed with your gambling adventure. In most cases, the bookmaker requires you to present your betting slip to the cashier to receive your winnings.

Online bookmakers are another way you can place your bets. They require you to open a gambling account using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The next step involves funding your account and placing your bets. The best part of internet betting is that these types of sportsbooks offer many bonuses and feature huge portfolios of sports events.

Going from a Novice to a Pro in Sports Betting

Anyone can become a pro in sports betting provided they have the correct information. The first steps to becoming a pro in sports betting is choosing a reliable betting operator and understanding betting basics. These betting basics include in-depth understanding of sporting events, wagers types, and essential betting tips. Some of the betting tips for applying include:

  • Betting with a clear mind.
  • Developing bankroll management.
  • Betting on sports you are familiar with.
  • Keeping betting records.


How does virtual sports betting work?

Virtual sports betting involves predicting the results of virtual sports. These games rely on random number generators to produce unpredictable outcomes. Excellent examples of such games include virtual football, virtual tennis, virtual horse racing, and more.

How does round robin work in sports betting?

In a round-robin bet, you combine many individual parlays in a single bet slip. Unlike the regular parlay bet, where losing one wager translates to losing the whole bet slip, this type of wager ensures your bet slip remains profitable even after losing one or more bets.

How does betting on sports games work?

Sports betting involves predicting the outcome of sporting events to win real money. In this case, you must stake a specific amount, which is then multiplied by the wagered odds for you to earn or lose your money.

How does the spread work in sports betting?

Spread betting involves predicting how many points a team will win or lose by. It has three outcomes, win, lose, or push. For instance, in football, gamblers can bet the margin of games' results in terms of goals.

How does the money line work in sports betting?

A money line bet consists of two or three outcomes. It is one of the easiest ways of betting since it involves betting on the winner.

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